It’s festive season in the Premier League, although the only team that will be celebrating is the blue side of Manchester, who appears to have the whole thing wrapped up already. As much as we all hope that they enjoy the Christmas party too much, and play the next four games pissed, losing all of them and re-opening up the title race, doesn’t seem especially likely. Nevertheless, here is how week 19 will go down:
Arsenal vs Liverpool
Goals, goals and more goals, is what this game usually serves up and I expect this festive treat to be no different, given that both teams have good attacks and suspect defenses. In fact, many around English football think that Klopp has a bit of the Arsene Wenger about him: beautiful attacking teams that, ultimately fail to get across the line, because the team lacks a solid spine. With both teams starting to be slightly cut-adrift in the race to be in the top three, it is a must win for both of them, so as a Chelsea fan I would quite like a draw. However, I think that this is exactly the kind of big game, where Arsenal’s spinelessness comes to the fore, so I am going to plump for a slightly controversial 3-1 Liverpool win.
Everton vs Chelsea
If only Chelsea were playing Everton a month ago, when they were languishing in the lower parts of the table. Allardyce has changed them, as everyone suspected that he would, strengthening their porous defense and making them a bastard to play. He’s even got Shrek scoring again, even if most of them are coming from the penalty spot: still, Chelsea will be too good for them, keeping up our pointless title chase, with a 3-1 win.
Swansea vs Palace
Its official, Swansea is heading for the Championship, unless they spend well in January, while Palace has sneakily been very impressive since Roy Hodgson took over. I personally will find it difficult to forgive him for his boring and predictable spell as England boss, but credit where credit is due: Palace is far better under him. I think that Swansea may be able to squeeze out a draw, but I am going to plump for a 2-1 Palace win.
Brighton vs Watford
Watford is playing the entertainer role this year in the EPL with a remarkable 60 goals coming during their 18 games, if City weren’t scoring so many themselves, then it would be a story. Brighton’s problem is that they don’t score, which is why I reckon that Watford will win this game 3-1.
Manchester City vs Bournemouth
All you can do is bow down to the Champions elect: it would take one mighty collapse, of the type that the England batting line-up specialises in, for them to mess it up, even at this early stage. Though, one hopes that Chelsea and Man United get close enough to make it interesting and Guardiola starts shouting, in a Geordie accent that he would love it if he beat them, that seems entirely unlikely. They will beat Bournemouth, 4-1, although it could be more.
Southampton vs Huddersfield
Wow, there were some red faces in the Southampton boardroom, when former boss Claude Puel, who they axed after one year came back and thrashed them. They play dreary football but are too good to go down, meaning that a 1-1 draw will be the outcome of this game.
Stoke vs West Brom
Alan Pardew is not the answer and West Brom seem to be intent on finding that out the hard way. Thus, I think Stoke will handle them at home, although they do have their own problems, with their fans beginning to get a bit restless, with Hughes’ lack of success: 2-1 Stoke.
West Ham vs Newcastle
Moyes has solidified West Ham and they have had a couple of good results, which involved good defense and counter-attacking football. Funnily enough, this is also Benitez’s plan, although he is doing it very badly at the moment. However, I see some respite, because the battle of the boring managers will end in a 1-1 draw.
Burnley vs Tottenham
Spurs seem intent to have the kind of season, which Arsenal specialise in: fall out of title contention by Christmas, then go all in on the Champions League, before panicking about being in the top-four when they get knocked out and having a late push to get back in. I couldn’t think of a more difficult pre-Christmas match than Burnley away: cold and physical, you have to really want to win there. Spurs don’t strike me as being that interested this year, so I am predicting that the game finishes in a 1-1 draw.
Man United vs Leicester
Leicester is playing well, but you can’t help but feel that Manchester United will be too good in this one: not that it will make a shred of difference to where the title is going, 3-1 Man U.